Ukraine’s top government officials claimed that Russia has been stealing grain from occupied territories or forcing farmers to sell grain at unfair prices.
Taras Vysotsky, deputy Minister of Agriculture of Ukraine, stated that the Russian authorities took “several hundred thousand tonnes of grain” from the Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Donetsk, and Luhansk regions that are currently under the Russian control.
“In total, farmers in these regions have 1.5 million tonnes of grain. These reserves were formed primarily under the sowing campaign,” Vysotsky said, adding that given the current prices this grain is worth “hundreds of millions of dollars”.
Vysotsky said that grain is being stolen not only from Ukraine but also from foreign consumers, which jeopardizes global food security.
Lyudmila Denisova, Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights also said that Russia has been removing grain and food from the temporarily occupied territories.
The Ukraine Foreign Ministry issued a statement demanding the Russian authorities to stop “the illegal theft of grain, unblock Ukrainian ports, restore freedom of navigation and allow the passage of merchant ships,” in order to resume grain exports.
Mykola Solskyi, Ukraine Agricultural Minister said that among other things this practice pushed farmers to abandon the operation.
Hunger should not become a weapon
The Kremlin denied Ukraine’s allegations, saying it did not know where the information was coming from.
On April 28, a statement appeared on the website of the regional Parliament of Krasnoyarsk Territory in Russian Siberia saying that the lawmakers decided to confiscate the harvest of Ukrainian farmers, explaining their decision by the difficulties in providing the region with such products due to Western sanctions.
However, in a follow-up statement, the lawmakers said that the website was hacked, and the published message was false.
Almost 4.5 million tonnes of wheat have been blocked in Ukrainian ports due to the Russian invasion, said Martin Frick, an official of the United Nations World Food Program.
“Hunger should not become a weapon,” Frick said, calling for the resumption of Ukrainian food supplies to other nations to alleviate the global food crisis.
Before the war began, Ukraine was one of the world’s most important producers of wheat as well as a large producer of corn. However, millions of Ukrainians are currently in need of food aid themselves, according to the World Food Program.